There’s no doubt about it: veterinary care can be very expensive. Equipment, medicine and training are improving each year in the field, and with these advances comes an increased costs. It may come as a surprise that many of the drugs and instruments used in veterinary care are the same as those used in humans – only there is no NHS to buffer the cost of treatment. How can you manage costs without compromising on the quality of care for your pet? Read on for advice that could save you money!
You don’t need to see the vet every time you have a question about caring for your pet. Many practices offer vet nurse clinics, in which you can get low-cost or even free reliable, trustworthy answers to your queries. It’s increasingly common to encounter vet nurses with formal training and even specialisation in many aspects of pet care – whether you own a cat, dog, small furry or reptile they have expert information that will help prevent disease and injury. Many practices offer appointments with nurses, in which you can bring your pet in for a check-up. Here are some topics that nurses can advise on:
If you’re not sure whether your pet needs to see the vet right away, making an appointment with a nurse can help resolve simple problems. Note that nurses cannot diagnose illness or prescribe drugs, so if your pet needs medicine you may be referred to the vet.
One of the biggest unexpected costs that owners face is dental work. Just like in humans, as your pet ages his teeth may deteriorate and cause him pain, infection or other serious complications. If you don’t have a dental care routine you could be setting yourself up for major bills down the line. A scale and polish in a cat or dog usually requires a full general anaesthetic, not mention the cost of any tooth extractions, x-rays and follow-up care with pain relief and antibiotics – it is not unusual for dental procedures to cost hundreds of pounds. Keep your pet’s dental costs manageable by brushing his teeth daily, or incorporating another form of dental hygiene into his routine. There are water additives and special diets that will help prevent gingivitis in pets that don’t tolerate brushing. It’s a good idea to work with your vet (or nurse!) to work out a routine that works for you to prevent unexpectedly high costs.
Neutering reduces or eliminates the risk of painful, life-threatening diseases like uterine infection, reproductive tract cancers and more. The cost of neutering varies from practice to practice, but the fees are usually straightforward and manageable, whereas treatment of pyometra or cancer can go into the thousands before you know it. Neutering your pet at an early age can also prevent behavioural disorders that require training or sessions with a behaviourist to resolve. Check with your vet to see if you eligible for any third party funding towards your pet’s neutering operation for even better value.
You are what you eat, and the same is true of your pet. Keep him healthy by choosing foods with higher quality meat content and fewer fillers like cereals and grains. Though foods with top-notch ingredients can be more expensive than your standard supermarket fare, they are nutrient dense and your pet may not need to eat as much. A good diet is cornerstone to great health, and feeding a life-phase appropriate food with lots of vitamins can help facilitate and sustain your pet’s happiness and quality of life for years to come.
Select a plan from a reputable company and you could see yourself saving thousands on unexpected emergencies. With so many options available you are sure to find a policy with the right amount of coverage for you, so you can rest easy knowing that any veterinary bills will be under control. Some policies will also cover complementary treatments and referrals, allowing you to weigh the treatment options laid out by your vet without worrying about financial constraints. If you need help choosing a policy, read online reviews or ask your practice for brochures that will make it easier to compare the policies on offer. You can use the Pets4Homes Pet Insurance Comparison page to also compare the best insurance policies.
Catching health problems early is one of the best ways to keep vet costs down. That’s why it’s so important for your pet to have annual or even bi-annual check-ups. You should also take time to get to know what’s normal for your pet. Notice any lumps and bumps? Make sure they aren’t growing by making a clay ball that’s roughly the same size and compare it with the lump on your pet’s body as weeks go by. Remember that the first signs of illness may be small: a change in appetite, increased thirst, sudden lethargy and lax grooming habits should all be monitored carefully. Vigilance is your best friend in stopping health problems from worsening and preventing the massive bills that come with emergency treatment.
As vet bills rise, more vet practices are recognising the need for manageable standard care. Your vet may offer a monthly or annual lump sum that will cover the cost of general health checks, vaccinations and parasite control - allowing you to plan for or spread out your pet’s basic veterinary care costs. See if any vets in your area offer this service, and if they don’t let them know that it’s something that you are interested in.
When you adopt or purchase a pet, you’re making a commitment to care for him in sickness and health. Good preventative measures will make it easy for you to do right by your best friend, without spending an arm and a leg.